The Blender Project, Part I

I learned 3d software in college, starting with 3DS Max. I hated it. At the time, Max used a library of plugins, but the way they were used made the software feel like it was a bunch of different programs tied loosely together. This was probably 7 years ago; it may have changed now, but it was terrible then.

Once I got more advanced, I switched to Maya. I fell in love with it, and made that my minor. The Maya interface was well designed in a logical manner and the customization is fantastic. I can set up several different desktop configurations, based on the project I’m working on, and load them up at will. Sweet!

There’s two problems with using Maya:

1. Cost prohibitive. I bought the network version, so that I could run up to twelve Maya consoles at a time for rendering. It cost $5,000 for the software (fortunately, someone gave me it as a graduation gift). Then it cost 500 a year for a subscription. This allows me to get support for the product, get every new version and have access to other resources. They’ve since raised the price, so now I pay 600 a year. Plus, Autodesk did away with the subscription model. I got grandfathered in for as long as I’m subscribed, but if I drop, then I have to go to their cloud based program, which would cost over 2k a year. And, at the rate I’m animating (I’ve been spending all of my time writing), I’m starting to question whether I should resubscribe next February. (EDIT: I didn’t)

2. When I try to do animation projects with other people, I run into the problem of me having the latest version, and them being a few versions behind, if they have the program at all.

So, what’s the fix? Blender. Blender is an open-sourced 3d program that allows for many of the features that Maya has, plus a few others. I looked into it years ago, but it seemed very flaky, no real documentation, and a terrible learning curve. But I’ve gone back and looked at it each year, and I think the latest version may be a suitable substitute.

This blog series will document my experiences with Blender, how it compares to Maya, and my eventual conclusion of why you should or shouldn’t be using it. I have a short, silly film I was animating called Wormswatter, which is a spoof of those Ronco commercials. I actually have a lot of the sets, props and main characters all built in Maya. I’m going to switch gears, and rebuild them all in Blender.hen complete the entire cartoon in Blender.

First step – start learning how Blender works. Time to jump on youtube!

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